Thursday, June 12, 2014

Two Stabs at It by Mrs. Rohlfs

By Anna Katharine Green (1846-1935).
G. P. Putnam's Sons.
1899. 360 pages. $1.25
Online HERE and HERE.
Despite Green's numerous shortcomings, she still managed to engage not just her fans but also reluctant critics:
[Full review] Agatha Webb, by Anna Katharine Green, is a complicated, intricate, and sensational story of crime and detection. The plot is purposely twisted to mislead the reader's suspicions.
Lovers of the literature of crime may find the story attractive; but even in this class of literature it falls far below the author's "Leavenworth Case." — "Books of the Week," THE OUTLOOK (July 22, 1899)
[Excerpts] The name of Anna Katharine Green has always been associated with detective stories, so in Agatha Webb we find the usual murder in the first chapter, followed by the usual suspicion of nearly every person at all connected with the story and the final clearing up of all the suspicion and the mystery. In this story Mrs. Rohlfs does not stop at one good, clean murder, but she gives it to us in wholesale quantities.  . . . in spite of such a bundle of impossibilities, she contrives to hold the interest of the reader to the end, which is all that can be expected of Anna Katharine Green. —"Novel Notes," THE BOOKMAN (September 1899)
By Anna Katharine Green (1846-1935).
Ward, Lock & Co.
1904. 3s. 6d.
Online HERE, HERE, and HERE.
[Full review] The methods of Miss A. K. Green (Mrs. Charles Rohlfs), though never excessively intricate, are always successful, and One of My Sons is a story of sterling merit in its own line—the detective line.
Which of three sons murdered his father by a dose of prussic acid? We waver along through thirty-two exciting chapters before we realise the truth.
Perhaps these stories, besides thrilling, teach a stern moral lesson against hasty condemnation (for who ever read of the likely person being guilty?); but, at any rate, they thrill, and that seems enough for us at the time. — "Notes on New Books," THE BOOKMAN [UK] (May 1904)
In relation to One of My Sons, a commentator couldn't resist talking about the clever trick Green plays on the reader in the book involving a dying clue (pace, Ellery Queen), but in doing so he REVEALS who DIDN'T do it; so if you read the following article in its entirety then note we're issuing a SPOILER ALERT:
[Excerpts] From Dr. Conan Doyle and Mr. Richard Harding Davis to the detective stories of Anna Katharine Green is considerable of a step downward.
Yet in Mrs. Rohlfs's latest story, One of My Sons, there is a chapter which deserves more than passing attention.  . . . In the chapter to which we have referred, [Ebenezer] Gryce's young assistant [Sweetwater] clears away the mystery by experimenting with the typewriter by which the dead man had tried to send his last message. In the death struggle the victim's fingers had become covered with paste from an overturned bottle, and from the blurring of the keys which have been struck, Sweetwater follows the course of the incomplete message.  . . . — "Chronicle and Comment: An Idea of Unusual Ingenuity," THE BOOKMAN (January 1902)

Category: Detective fiction

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